American black cherry, which grows extensively in Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia and West Virginia, is one of the world’s fastest growing temperate hardwoods. It regenerates naturally and ages to a striking, rich reddish-brown colour, yet it is still being vastly under-utilised. “Cherrywood, from a craftsman’s point of view, works beautifully and finishes to a gorgeous silky texture. As a fruit wood, it has been prized through history and should be prized now. It has become a victim of fashion which the forestry industry can ill afford given its 100 year planting and cropping plan.” says Sean Sutcliffe. He adds “Rotunda Serotina continues our work on Life Cycle Assessment, which we hope will be taken on widely in the furniture making industry.”
“Given current furniture fashion, you may be forgiven for thinking our forests are all white oak and walnut,” says David Venables, European Director of the American Hardwood Export Council. “Establishing a balance between market demand and the dynamic of the forest is essential to achieve true sustainability.”
He continues: “It is also about offering the consumer the widest possible choice. So not to present to the market some of our best and most exciting species, such as cherry, because they are not deemed “fashionable”, is a real lost opportunity. Rotunda Serotina is one of a number of AHEC projects in 2015 that will celebrate cherry. There are already indications that furniture industries in Europe are looking at cherry wood again as a material of choice. It is our experience that wood fashion in furniture often determines a ‘look’ that then becomes architecturally trendy a few years later.”
Cherry’s sustainability means it will likely to always be available to bespoke and industrial furniture makers. Designers on AHEC projects talk about its durability and pliability – it turns well on a lathe and steam-bends with ease. The focus on cherry at Milan’s Salone del Mobile may, then, mark a turning point and a fresh chapter for this important hardwood.
For more information visit American Hardwood Export Council